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Protecting vulnerable communities for 10 years with Project Galileo


6 min read
Protecting vulnerable communities for 10 years with Project Galileo

In celebration of Project Galileo's 10th anniversary, we want to give you a snapshot of what organizations that work in the public interest experience on an everyday basis when it comes to keeping their websites online. With this, we are publishing the Project Galileo 10th anniversary Radar dashboard with the aim of providing valuable insights to researchers, civil society members, and targeted organizations, equipping them with effective strategies for protecting both internal information and their public online presence.

Key Statistics

  • Under Project Galileo, we protect more than 2,600 Internet properties in 111 countries.
  • Between May 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, Cloudflare blocked 31.93 billion cyber threats against organizations protected under Project Galileo. This is an average of nearly 95.89 million cyber attacks per day over the 11-month period.
  • When looking at the different organizational categories, journalism and media organizations were the most attacked, accounting for 34% of all attacks targeting the Internet properties protected under the Project in the last year, followed by human rights organizations at 17%.
  • On October 11, 2023, Cloudflare detected one of the largest attacks we’ve seen against an organization under Project Galileo, targeting a prominent independent journalism website covering stories in Russia and across Eastern Europe. We identified a DDoS attack that peaked at 7 million requests per second, with an attack duration of 7 minutes. In total, 1.9 billion DDoS requests targeting the attacked organization were mitigated that day.
  • We saw two attacks against an organization that manages vital Internet infrastructure in the Middle East. We mitigated 177 million DDoS requests targeting the organization over a three-hour period in October 2023. The second attack in December 2023 reached 42.6 million requests that were mitigated over a two-hour period.
  • We observed an attack targeting LGBT Foundation, a UK-based LGBTQ+ organization, during the beginning of Pride Month in June 2023. Cloudflare mitigated 144.7 million requests to this organization on June 2, 2023. In addition to this spike in June, we also saw another attack on August 26, 2023, which coincided with Manchester Pride. This second attack peaked at 1.46 million requests per second before finally subsiding on August 29.

This year, we broke down the dashboard into several sections:

  • Global civil society and human rights organizations
  • Global journalism and media organizations
  • Organizations based in Ukraine
  • Organizations in Israel and Palestine
  • Voting rights organizations based in the United States

Check out the full report here.

Highlights of the Report

Protecting free speech and a free press

The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide has grown in recent years. Reporters are increasingly at risk of being censored or shut down by governments or falling victim to cyberattacks. Project Galileo started as an initiative to protect free expression online. It’s grown to not only protect journalists, but also organizations working in the public interest such as voting rights groups, environmental activists, human rights defenders and more. We’ve seen journalists targeted on the Internet for various reasons, often stemming from the sensitive and impactful nature of their work. To that end, we’ve partnered with prominent organizations such as Internews, Center for International Media Assistance, International Press Institute, International Media Support, and many more to identify where our services are needed.

“Truth is the first casualty of war”

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, Cloudflare has been providing protection to journalists reporting on the conflict, human rights organizations helping refugees on the ground, and groups that have built mobile apps giving people early warnings of missile strikes.

Among them is Russian-born Galina Timchenko, co-founder, CEO, and owner of independent news outlet Meduza. A recent investigation by Access Now and the Citizen Lab reveals Timchenko had her iPhone infected with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware during a trip to Berlin, Germany around February 10, 2023. This is the first documented case of Pegasus infection against a Russian journalist, which shows the growing suspicions among European Union governments regarding Russian civil society in exile. Labeled as an "undesirable organization" and blocked by the Russian government, Meduza operates out of Latvia to maintain editorial independence as it continues to publish news focused on covering stories in Russia and the former Soviet Union, including the conflict in Ukraine.

Meduza is an example of an important organization that lacks the resources to protect itself against intensive online attacks. On a single day in October 2023, Meduza came under DDoS attack peaking at 7 million requests per second and lasting 7 minutes—an onslaught which would have disabled the site under normal circumstances.

Protecting organizations in a time of conflict

We’ve reported on patterns of wartime violence coinciding with cyberattacks. Unfortunately, these trends have continued during the war between Israel and Hamas, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Under Project Galileo, we protect a range of organizations based in the region that work to provide emergency response service, vital equipment for hospitals, crowdfunding platforms supporting the Muslim community worldwide, and more. We saw an increase in traffic after October 7, 2023, to both Israeli and Palestinian organizations, coinciding with the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

As we explored the data further, we saw an attack against a prominent organization based in the United Kingdom that works to secure Palestinian human rights, observing two dates on which there was an increase in mitigated traffic. The first, on October 15, 2023, coincided with the national demonstration in London in support of Palestine. We see in the first spike the requests go from 0 to 44,500 mitigated requests per second within two minutes. When we took a closer look, we identified that many of the requests were mitigated by Cloudflare’s Security Level, a product that uses the threat score (IP reputation) to decide whether to present a challenge to the visitor. The second spike, on February 21, 2024, coincided with UK lawmakers calling for cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. This peaked at 10,500 mitigations per second that lasted 40 minutes with an average of 6,638 requests per second.

As we reviewed the data, we saw two attacks against an organization that manages vital Internet infrastructure in the Middle East. Attacking infrastructure entities like domain name registries and registrars is not new, as we saw in Ukraine during the beginning of the war in March 2022, and follows an unsettling trend of targeting broad swaths of a country’s Internet infrastructure.

We saw two notable spikes in traffic, the first in October and second in December 2023. The first attack took place in three waves on October 18 and 19th, peaking around 78,500 requests per second. In total, the attack went from 2.48 million requests to 177.42 million requests mitigated per day.

On December 20-21, 2023, there was an attack that lasted more than 2 hours, averaging 8,600 requests per second throughout that period, reaching as high as 13,830 requests per second. In total, this attack saw 42.6 million daily requests mitigated.

And more…

Here we’ve provided just a snapshot of what organizations see on a daily basis when it comes to keeping their websites online. For more information on attacks against organizations protected under Project Galileo, check out the full Radar report.

If you are an organization looking for protection under Project Galileo, please visit our website:

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Jocelyn Woolbright|@jo_woolbright

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